글 // Hamburg // Food and Drink Saving The Bees, One Pot Of Honey At A Time 20 1 2016 Because Monsanto needs to stop. The threat of the extinction of honeybees is a very real thing. They’re fast becoming an endangered species, with a 53% decline in colonies from 1985-2005 in the UK alone. And this number shows no signs of abating. A combination of environmental and socio-political contributing factors is stripping bees out of our gardens and off of our plants. The agrochemical and agricultural biotechnology industry is introducing systemic pesticides which penetrate the entirety of the plant instead of the leaves. This means that the bees pick up the chemicals in their pollen and nectar and store it in honeycomb. When those reserves are dipped into, those toxins attack their central nervous system and in turn affect their navigational abilities, which makes it difficult for them to find their way back to the hive. This in turn results in depleted colonies, and a reduction in pollinated crops. But why? Monsanto’s acquisition of Beeologics, a small company which has made ground-breaking research into the manipulation of genes within bees, has led many to believe that it has plans to create their own genetically-modified bees, resistant to the same pesticides they peddle. In this global context stands Michael Bauer, a gentle and patient man who made a sharp U-turn five years ago from working in publishing to working full-time as an apiarist. Located by the river Elbe in Hamburg, Atlander Honig is home to 120 hives that Michael tends to. He believes in the importance of employing a fully organic maintenance scheme, for the good of the bees, the plants, the honey, and the main perpetrator of this ecological mess – capitalism. From the wooden hives that the bees are housed in, to the medicine used to fight the parasitic mites that can thrive in the apiaries, natural is always the chosen option for Michael. It’s not just a beekeeping technique, it’s an attitude that quickly spills over into an entire lifestyle approach. To the uninitiated, bees seem like nothing, but they are in fact everything. And it’s our duty to understand and sustain this – first and foremost by sampling delicious local honey.